This avgolemono soup recipe is comforting with bright flavors. Made with the classic egg lemon sauce, avgolemono, this Greek lemon chicken soup is so satisfying. Follow along for all my tips and instructions to make this authentic Greek chicken soup.
If you're looking for a comforting meal today, you're in the right spot. This Greek chicken soup known as avgolemono is the ultimate comforting dish for any day of the week. Just like lemon chicken orzo soup, Greek lemon rice and Greek potatoes, this soup is flavored with freshly squeeze lemon juice and calls for simple ingredients.
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Avgolemono - Greek chicken soup with lemon
Pronounced ah-vo-le-mo-no (the "g" is not spoken), this classic Greek lemon chicken soup with rice is pure joy. Made with very simple ingredients, this soup is lemony - and silky, thanks to the avgolemono sauce - making it a comforting choice for a weeknight dinner.
Avgolemono sauce is a classic Greek sauce made of lemon, eggs, and broth or stock. It's used to enrich and enhance the flavor of numerous Greek dishes including dolmades where the eggs and lemon juice are mixed with the liquid which the dolmades are cooked in. To make this sauce, some separate the whites from the yolks and beat them until soft peak and then fold in the yolks. I find the simple way of mixing the eggs and lemon juice, then tempering it with stock to be just as effective.
There's no one right way to prepare this recipe. Some make the chicken stock from scratch using a whole chicken and some use store-bought stock and add leftover shredded chicken. As for the starch, it's most common to use rice, but some prefer to use orzo instead.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Chicken: I used boneless skinless chicken breasts, but you can use thighs or legs and you can use bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces as long as you remove the bone and skin before adding the cooked chicken to the soup.
- Onion, garlic and celery: Add these vegetables to the water to make the broth.
- Peppercorn and salt: To flavor the soup. I find adding peppercorn instead of ground pepper works better.
- Carrot: This is optional, but adds a nice flavor to the soup.
- Rice: Short grain rice such as arborio works best in this recipe. The starch from the rice will naturally thicken the soup. Some use orzo instead of rice.
- Eggs: You need 2 large eggs to make the avgolemono sauce.
- Lemon juice: The main flavor of this soup comes from lemon juice, therefore it's best to use freshly squeezed lemon juice.
How to make avgolemono
- Place the chicken, peppercorn, onion, garlic, celery stalk and salt in a pot and add 8 cups of water. Cover and turn the heat on to medium high. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to medium and simmer covered for 40 minutes until the chicken is fully cooked. Remove the chicken from the stock, let it cool and then shred it. Discard the peppercorn, onion, garlic and celery stock.
- Place the stock back on medium heat and add the carrots and rice. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes until the rice is fully cooked. Turn the heat off. Mix the eggs and lemon juice in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in 2 cups of soup into the egg mixture to temper the eggs.
- Slowly stir in the egg mixture into the soup. Turn the heat on to low and cook for 5 minutes. Add the shredded chicken to the soup, cook for 5 more minutes and serve.
Tips to make the best avgolemono soup
- Always temper the eggs. Tempering the eggs and lemon juice will ensure that the eggs won't break or scramble when added to the soup. It's important to perform this step slowly. You can always ask someone to pour in the soup as you whisk the eggs.
- Manage the heat after adding the egg and lemon sauce to the soup. Turn the heat off as you add the sauce to the soup and then heat it over low heat for a few minutes. without simmering it.
Even though I'm a big fan of taking one's time when making avgolemono (nothing tops homemade broth), I do have a couple of shortcuts up my sleeve that can be pulled out when necessary. One is using store-bought chicken broth. However, don't choose just any broth: make sure it's low-sodium and high quality.
If you go down this route, you won't be cooking the chicken in water. You do need to use cooked chicken to make the soup which can include leftovers or rotisserie chicken without the skin and bones. The recipe will remain the same, simply skip the steps associated with the broth. Start with the rice and carrot in the broth and proceed from there.
Storage and freezing
It keeps well enough that you can make a big batch and enjoy it for a few days. Store the leftovers in an airtight, preferably glass container and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Reheat the soup in a pot or saucepan over medium low heat with a few tablespoons of water to thin it out a bit.
You can also freeze avgolemono soup. If you do so, let it cool completely then transfer it to a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. To serve, thaw it in the fridge overnight and then reheat in a pot or a saucepan over medium low heat until warm.
Frequently asked questions
No, the eggs cook slowly as they're added to the hot soup.
There could be a couple of reasons for a broken avgolemono. First, the eggs were not tempered well because the soup was added too quickly which resulted in the eggs cooking. Second, the soup was simmering while you added the tempered eggs back into the pot which again, would result in the eggs cooking before they're stirred into the soup.
Eggs are the main ingredient of the sauce and there is no substitute for them in this recipe.
More recipes to try
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Avgolemono (Greek Lemon Chicken Soup)
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breast see notes
- 1 teaspoon peppercorn
- 1 onion cut into quarters
- 3 cloves garlic peeled
- 2 celery stalks cut into large chunks
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 large carrot diced
- ¾ cup short grain rice such as arborio
- 2 large eggs
- ⅓ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Place the chicken in a large pot with the peppercorn, onion, garlic, celery and salt. Add 8 cups of water to the chicken and cover with the lid. Turn the heat on to medium high and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer the chicken for about 40 minutes until it's fully cooked. Turn the heat off.
- Remove the chicken from the pot and let it cool completely then shred it. Discard the peppercorn, onion, garlic and celery so the broth is clear.
- Turn the heat on to medium high and add the carrots and rice to the broth. Bring it to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes or until the rice and carrots are cooked completely. If the soup is too thick, add 1 cup water. Turn the heat off.
- In a large bowl whisk the eggs with the lemon juice until combined. Slowly add 2 cups of the soup to the egg mixture and whisk constantly to temper the eggs. Then again, slowly add the tempered eggs back into the pot while stirring the soup.
- Once all the tempered eggs are added to the soup, turn the heat on to low and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add the shredded chicken and cook for 5 more minutes.
- Serve warm topped with parsley if desired.
- You can use bone-in skin-on chicken breast or even a whole chicken. Make sure to discard the bones and skin before adding the shredded chicken to the soup.
- It's important to temper the eggs to make sure they don't cook or scramble immediately once added to the soup. The soup has to be added very slowly to the egg mixture while whisking constantly.
- You can use store-bought broth and leftover cooked chicken or rotisserie chicken (boneless and skinless) for this recipe. If doing so, skip steps 1 and 2 and proceed with cooking the carrots and rice in the broth.
- Store the leftovers in an airtight, preferably glass container and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Reheat the soup in a pot or saucepan over medium low heat with a few tablespoons of water to thin it out a bit.
- To freeze this soup, let it cool completely then transfer it to a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. To serve, thaw it in the fridge overnight and then reheat in a pot or a saucepan over medium low heat until warm.